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edited by Sue Courtney

The Italian and French Connection
A Few Wines from Frescobaldi and Delas
© Sue Courtney
18 August 2003

An evening of stunning wines, it was a 'Super Tasting' at First Glass Wines and Spirits of the classy imports distributed in New Zealand by Montana Wines. The evening was hosted by Philip Bothwell, an Irishman who's now living in New Zealand after a stint in Russia that made him decide that wine was much nicer to drink than Vodka.

Prices are quoted in New Zealand dollars and are the recommended retail prices in New Zealand, although a couple of these wines came to NZ with tiny allocations any may no longer be available.

Frescobaldi Remole Toscana 2001
(90% Sangiovese 10% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Cherries, herbs, tobacco and peppery spice on a grainy chocolatey texture with dry brambly tannins, plummy fruit and little influence of oak makes this a cheap and cheerful lunchtime Italian wine to enjoy with antipasto, cold meats and salami filled rolls.
12.5% alc, $17.95.

Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti DOCG 2002
(90% Sangiovese 10% Merlot)
Great red colour, the result of the Merlot and it smells good too. Fruitcake cherry, spice and a little earth in this lightly oaked, beautifully structured fruity wine with an exuberance of cassis and blackberry, a touch of tobacco and tar and a suggestion of menthol on the finish. Made in an 'international' style, the Italians would hate but we will love it. Ready for the summer and another lovely wine to enjoy with Antipasto-type fare.
12.5% alc, $22.95.

Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina DOCG 1999
(90% Sangiovese 10% other varieties)
Looking like a black red garnet with some colour development on the rims, there are sound tannins in this earthy savoury wine that smells a little like developed Aussie Shiraz. It's an interesting, complex, mouth-filling wine with a lovely concentration of cherry, plum, tar, liquorice then savoury herbal notes and tobacco on the lingering finish. This would suit a more substantial dish, "perhaps Quail with Thyme" suggests Philip.
13% alc, $33.95.

Frescobaldi Montesodi Chianti Rufina DOCG 1998
(100% Sangiovese)
Black and opaque with hues of red just showing the merest of development on the rims, this really smells like Aussie Shiraz and hence a wine I would hate to get in Wine Options because it is so 'new world' rather than 'traditional Italian' in style. Sweet vanillin oak, concentrated ripe sweet fruit, plums, prunes, rich fruit-cake spices, grainy tannins and a touch of barnyard, it's a little dusty in the palate with a mellow character, yet firm and rich with the potential to develop and bring more intrigue. Fruitcake cherry flavours linger with an earthy richness. A beautiful example of great Italian wine. Accompany this with the big meat dish of the evening.
13% alc, $97.

Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 1997
(100% Sangiovese)
An unusual berryish, earthy, black olive, macerated prune and brandied Xmas pudding nose but as the wine develops in the glass it goes through a myriad of concentrated berry, herb flower, rose petal, violet and creamy oak scents. In fact the scent, to me, was so opulent, gorgeous and alluring, I could have smelt it all night. Dark roasted coffee at first in the palate before the tannins kick in, huge, huge tannins but roasted cherries, deliciously ripe black cherries, plums, cassis and blackcurrant fruits together with herbs override them and beautifully balance the wine to leave a very pleasing velvety texture in the mouth. The dark, earthy, savoury, mocha chocolate and gorgeously spicy finish is immense. A beautiful wine and an absolute treat to try. (My WOTN).
14% alc, $172. Sangiovese roughly translates to 'the blood of God' and when you taste wines like the Montesodi and the Castelgiocondo Brunello, you can understand why this is the most classy of all Italy's grapes.

Delas Fréres Côtes-du-Rhône 'Saint Esprit' Rouge 2000
(90% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 30% oak)
Smoke, cigar ash and burnt cherry on the nose but it changes in the glass as t is smelt over the course of the tasting sample. A lightly tannic, spicy wine with quite juicy fruit, tar, black pepper and leather with a touch of musk and cherry lingering on the savoury, slightly herbal finish, the latter keeping the sweet fruit in check.
12.5% alc, $19.95.

Delas Fréres Crozes-Hermitage 'Les Launes' 2000
(100% Syrah, 30% oak)
This is a savoury wine with malt and cowdung on the smoky nose, rosemary herbs, prunes, cherries and plum in the palate that has well-integrated tannins and a dry peppery finish that shows some power. A traditional style made to enjoy with food.
12.5% alc, $29.95.

Delas Fréres Châteauneuf-du-Pape "Haute-Pierre' 1998
(90% Syrah, 10% Grenache)
Light in colour for a CdP, there's sweet curranty fruit on the nose, perhaps a little sultana and raisin together with a hint of chocolate and a waft of violets. Firm, well-integrated tannins keep the sweet cherry and currant-like fruit that is just a little spirity, in check. Pepper, musk, liquorice, vanilla, tobacco and the merest hint of mint fill out the flavour profile and the finish, no doubt influenced by the Grenache, is juicy and succulent. From a very hot vintage, this is drinking well now but has the potential to live on in the cellar.
13.5% alc, $61.95.

Delas Fréres Hermitage 'Marquise de la Tourette' 1999
(100% Syrah)
Deep blackcurrant in colour with youthful, purple red rims, this wine is alluring from the outset. It's massively concentrated on the nose with so much going on in the form of cassis, tar, oxo, mocha, dark roasted charry oak and chicory, then even more concentration in the palate with masses of plum, cassis and blueberry fruit, spice and chocolate. It seems rather smooth, silky and harmonious in texture but the tannins are in fact quite grippy as I discovered the further I got down the glass. Quite delicious, it's one to have with rare meat or aged cheddar to cut through those tannins if consuming now, but it is a wine that is destined to blossom with a few years in a good cellar.
13% alc, $97.00.

Delas Fréres Hermitage 'Les Bessards' 1999
(100% Syrah)
Black in colour this dense opaque wine has youthful purple-red hues on the vibrantly coloured rims. It's looks massive and it is indeed massive, smelling so delicious with its ripe fruit and chocolatey oak scents. There's black plum, cherry and cassis dominating the myriad of fruit flavours in the palate together with mochaccino, a subtle undercurrent of pepper and svelte spicy-rich vanillin oak. The velvety tannins are beautifully structured, integrated and balanced to the concentrated fruit. There's a multitude of flavour on the finish that is lifted by the spicy richness of mocha, liquorice and rose pepper. Then there is the lingering leather that reminds you it is a very young wine and though it is opulence plus, it begs to be put in the cellar for a while.
13% alc, $175.00.
A simply outstanding tasting.

Copyright Sue Courtney
August 2003

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